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Countdown to the Eisners: 2020 Nominees for Best Writer & Best Writer/Artist

Fanbase Press’ coverage of the 2020 Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards continues with the “Countdown to the Eisners” series. From June 22 through July 14, 2020, Fanbase Press will highlight each of the Eisner Awards’ 31 nomination categories, providing comic book industry members and readers alike the opportunity to learn more about the nominees and their work. Stay tuned for Fanbase Press’ continued coverage of the Eisner Awards, including live coverage of the ceremony at San Diego Comic-Con in July 2020.

Best Writer

In the over 30 years of the Eisner Awards, Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman, Brian K. Vaughan, Ed Brubaker, and Brian Michael Bendis have all been repeat winners and have won the Best Writer award 22 of those times, with Moore taking the honor nine times. The 2018 awards saw unprecedented firsts for Best Writer, with a tie between Marjorie Liu and Tom King, and Liu being the first woman (and only, so far) to take home the Eisner for writing.

Here are the 2020 Eisner Award nominees for the Best Writer category:

Bobby Curnow, Ghost Tree (IDW)

Bobby Curnow is a writer and group editor at IDW Publishing. His book, Ghost Tree, is a quiet and contemplative supernatural story taking place in Japan that involves the main character discovering a haunted tree that connects him with his departed grandfather.

Ghost Tree understands that it’s not the ghosts that matter in a ghost story, but what they mean to us. They’re fragments of the past and previews of our own deaths, which can spur reflection and healing in those who experience them. Ghost Tree has drawn me in more than some comics manage to do in entire volumes. Grounded in Japanese folklore and emotional honesty, it sets up a story that moves with the gentle rhythm of a summer breeze.” — But Why Tho?

Click here to purchase.  

MK Reed and Greg Means, Penny Nichols (Top Shelf)

Eisner Award-nominated writer MK Reed has previously written titles like Dinosaurs: Fossils and Feathers and The Castoffs, while Greg Means served as the editor/publisher of the Ignatz Award-winning anthology series, Papercutter. Together, the previously co-wrote The Cute Girl Network.

Amazon describes their latest collaboration, Penny Nichols, as a “hilarious” and “loving tribute to the chaos and camaraderie of DIY filmmaking, and the ways we find our future — and our family — in the unlikeliest of places.”

Click here to purchase.  

Mariko Tamaki, Harley Quinn: Breaking Glass (DC); Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me (First Second/Macmillan); Archie (Archie)

Mariko Tamaki is a Canadian artist and writer who’s known for her graphic novels, Skim, Emiko Superstar, and This One Summer, and has also written for She-Hulk, X-23, Supergirl, as well as novel adaptations of the Lumberjanes comic series.

  Between the insightful Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me, Harley Quinn: Breaking Glass, and Archie, 2019 was a stellar and productive year for Tamaki. Next, she’ll take on Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Willow and Wonder Woman.

Click here to purchase Harley Quinn: Breaking Glass.  
Click here to purchase Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me.
Click here to purchase Archie.

Lewis Trondheim, Stay (Magnetic Press); Maggy Garrisson (SelfMadeHero)

Lewis Trondheim is a celebrated French cartoonist and author who has previously received an Inkpot Award and been a multiple Eisner and Harvey nominee.

Maggy Garrisson tells the story the secretary of a private detective being pulled in to “a sinister underworld of corrupt cops, crooked businessmen, and career criminals,” while Stay is described as “a moving and mesmerizing look at life, death, and the many different ways we cope with each” on Amazon.

Click here to purchase Stay.  
Click here to purchase Maggy Garrisson.  

G. Willow Wilson, Invisible Kingdom (Berger Books/Dark Horse); Ms. Marvel (Marvel)

A Hugo, World Fantasy, and American Book Award-winning author of novels and comics, G. Willow Wilson will next be taking on a new chapter in the Sandman saga with The Dreaming: Waking Hours.

Dark Horse Comics describes Invisible Kingdom as an “epic new sci-fi saga” focusing on “two women–one a young religious acolyte, the other a hard-bitten freighter pilot–uncover a conspiracy between the leaders of the most dominant religion and an all-consuming megacorporation.”

Ms. Marvel (a.k.a. Kamala Khan) is Marvel’s first Muslim character to headline her own comic book and continues to thrill readers, with some considering her the best new Marvel character of the decade.

Click here to purchase Invisible Kingdom.
Click here to purchase Ms. Marvel.

Chip Zdarsky, White Trees (Image); Daredevil, Spider-Man: Life Story (Marvel); Afterlift (comiXology Originals)

Canadian comic book artist and writer Chip Zdarsky is co-creator of Sex Criminals and has worked on Jughead, Howard the Duck, and more.


The White Trees has reminded at least one reader how reading comics can feel like pure magic.” –

“Those who are looking for an entry point to Daredevil’s adventures will find a lot to love in this jam-packed debut, which goes a long way towards painting a picture of the complex figure Matt Murdock has become over the years.” – Newsarama

“One of the most thematically rich Spidey stories, not to mention Marvel stories, in years.”
– Multiversity Comics

“To sum it all up, Afterlift provides an enjoyable tale that delivers particularly well on a few moments. While much of the story goes into the realm of forgettable to me, it happily never went so far as to be regrettable. All the elements of this story come together to create a perfectly competent example of comic book storytelling.” – But Why Tho?

Click here to purchase The White Trees.
Click here to purchase Daredevil.
Click here to purchase Spider-Man: Life Story.
Click here to purchase Afterlift.

Best Writer/Artist

The Eisner’s Best Writer/Artist category has been around since the awards’ inception in 1988, with Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons winning as a team for Watchmen. Other past winners of the category include Jeff Smith for Bone, Jaime Hernandez for Love and Rockets New Stories #6, Emil Ferris for My Favorite Thing Is Monsters, Jen Wang for The Prince and the Dressmaker, and more.

Here are the 2020 Eisner Award nominees for the Best Writer/Artist category:

Nina Bunjevac, Bezimena (Fantagraphics)

A Canadian born cartoonists and illustrator who spent her formative years in Yugoslavia, Nina Bunjevac is know for her previously published comics, Heartless and Fatherland.

Bezimena is described on Amazon as a retelling of “the myth of Artemis and Siproites, in which a young man is turned into a woman as a punishment for the attempted rape of one of Artemis’ virgin cohorts” in a graphic novel that “turns the male gaze inside-out.”

Click here to purchase.  

Mira Jacob, Good Talk (Random House); “The Menopause” in the Believer (June 1, 2019)

Mira Jacob is a novelist, memoirist, illustrator, and cultural critic who’s worked has appeared The New York Times Book Review, Vogue, the Telegraph, and more. Her graphic memoir, Good Talk: A Memoir in Conversations, is currently in development as a television series with Film 44.

“[Good Talk is] a beautiful and eye-opening account of what it means to mother a brown boy and what it means to live in this country post–9/11, as a person of color, as a woman, as an artist . . . In Jacob’s brilliant hands, we are gifted with a narrative that is sometimes hysterical, always honest, and ultimately healing.”
—Jacqueline Woodson, National Book Award–winning author of Another Brooklyn

Click here to purchase Good Talk.  
Click here to purchase “The Menopause” in the Believer.

Keum Suk Gendry-Kim, Grass (Drawn & Quarterly)

Keum Suk Gendry-Kim is a South Korean cartoonist who’s known for her graphic novels, The Song of My Father, Jiseul, and Kogaeyi.

Grass is described by the publisher as “a powerful anti-war graphic novel, offering up firsthand the life story of a Korean girl named Lee Ok-sun who was forced into sexual slavery for the Japanese Imperial Army during the second World War – a disputed chapter in 20th century Asian history.”

“Unflinching…Gendry-Kim can capture Lee’s gap-toothed raucousness as a girl on one page, and on the next plunge us fully into nightmare. I’ve never known happiness from the moment I came out of my mother’s womb,” Lee says.

“By the end of this searing book, those words read more as understatement than exaggeration.” – The New York Times

Click here to purchase.  

James Stokoe, Sobek (Shortbox)

Canadian comic book artist James Stokoe has previously work on such titles as Godzilla: The Half-Century War, Wonton Soup, and Aliens: Dead Orbit.

According to Shortbox, “Life is pretty good being a gigantic crocodile god: spend your days lazing on the riverbeds of the Nile while your devotees shower praise and juicy offerings upon you.” But, in Sobek, the titular gigantic crocodile god “must limber into action when a distraught priest relays news of affront and vandalism from the followers of Set.”

“James Stokoe’s Shortbox Tale of an ancient Egyptian crocodile god is a sumptuous visual feast of a comic” – Broken Frontier

Click here to purchase.  

Raina Telgemeier, Guts (Scholastic Graphix)

Raina Telgemeier is a #1 New York Times bestselling comic creator and multiple Eisner Award winner who is also known for her graphic memoirs, Smile and Sisters.

Guts is the true story of the author’s struggles as a young person with a terrible upset stomach that seems connected to her worries regarding friends, school, and other elements of her life.

“The story both normalizes therapy and shows a child developing useful coping mechanisms for anxiety in a way that will reassure, even inspire, readers.” – Publishers Weekly

Click here to purchase.  

Tillie Walden, Are You Listening? (First Second/Macmillan)

Tillie Walden is a cartoonist and illustrator from Austin, TX, and is one of the youngest Eisner Award winners ever given the 2018 Eisner Award for Best Reality-Based Work which she received for her graphic novel, Spinning.

Are you Listening? is described on Amazon as “an intimate and emotionally soaring story about friendship, grief, and healing.”

“Walden crafts another graphic novel exploring themes of trauma, healing, identity, and chosen family… like the illustrations, the protagonists’ reality is shaped by their emotions, and, by book’s end, each has had space to process some of her pain.” ―Horn Book

Previous honors for Are You Listening? include:

A Chicago Public Library Best of the Best Book of 2019
A National Public Radio (NPR) Best Book of 2019
An O Magazine Best LGBTQ Book of 2019
One of The Comics Beat’s Best Comics of 2019
A Lambda Literary Award Finalist

Click here to purchase.  

Stay tuned to the Fanbase Press website each day as we continue our “Countdown to the Eisners” coverage! Plus, follow Fanbase Press’ Facebook, Twitter (@Fanbase_Press), and Instagram (@fanbasepress) with the hashtag #FPSDCC to stay up to date on our SDCC and Eisner Awards updates, including a live-tweet of the 2020 Eisner Award Ceremony!

Bryant Dillon, Fanbase Press President


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